Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

April 29, 2019

2019 Capital Improvements

Water utilities are an infrastructure intensive industry. Des Moines Water Works maintains over 10,000 fire hydrants and approximately 1,400 miles of buried water mains which have 9,800 valves. Des Moines Water Works has over 80,000 water meters and automated reading devices serving our customers. Each of Des Moines Water Works’ three water treatment plants and more than 50 remote sites (i.e. ground or elevated water storage facilities, pump and booster stations) have multiple mechanical, electrical, and controls systems that require a high degree of maintenance to ensure these systems work at peak efficiency to allow us to treat and distribute the highest quality water at the least possible cost.

Des Moines Water Works will be investing $1.4 million in building and facility maintenance, $1.9 million in new pumping and storage facilities, $2.9 in equipment updates, $3.5 million in treatment plant improvements, and $9.6 million in water main replacement and distribution system improvements as the major areas of focus for 2019.

As the largest 2019 capital investment, water main replacement is a necessary, preventative approach that saves money on repairs, reduces the loss of water that occurs as a result of the main breaks, and minimizes disruption to customers. Des Moines Water Works prioritizes water main projects by: replacement of water mains that have a history of breaks; modeling the likelihood of future breaks; relocation to accommodate city, county, or state construction projects; and improvement of fire flow and meeting the needs of customers.

The Board of Water Works Trustees has recognized the utility can most cost effectively maintain our infrastructure assets by generating the necessary capital through water rate revenue. This allows the utility to pay for the maintenance and replacements on a “pay as you go” basis. The 2019 utility budget included an upcoming rate increase (effective April 1) to allow an operating budget growth of 6.2%, and produce an estimated $19.3 million for new capital improvement projects after existing debt service obligations are met.

After each project is designed, Des Moines Water Works will receive bids from contractors and the construction contract will be awarded to the contractor that will be performing the work. If the bids received allow Des Moines Water Works to complete all the streets within budget, construction will take place in 2019.

Des Moines Water Works will contact customers directly in the neighborhoods throughout Des Moines and unincorporated Polk County that have been scheduled for water main replacement in 2019. Additional customer communications and public meetings will be forthcoming. Des Moines Water Works appreciates the cooperation and understanding from customers during construction and will work with contractors to minimize the inconvenience to customers impacted by the following projects:

Polk County Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1
· NE 3rd Street from NE 54th Avenue to NE 49th Place
· NE 5th Street from NE 51st Place to NE 54th Avenue

Polk County Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 2
· NW 51st Place from NW 2nd Avenue to NW 6th Drive
· NW 49th Place from NW 2nd Avenue to NW 6th Drive

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT
· Park Avenue from SW 33rd Street to SW 37th Street
· 48th Street private main conversion to public main

City of Des Moines Road Reconstruction with Des Moines Water Main Replacement
· Fleur Drive Reconstruction from Bell Avenue to Watrous Phase 1-North Bound
· 2019 Roadway Reconstruction:
– SE 5th Street from Park Avenue to E. Broad Street
– South Union Street from E. Kirkwood Avenue to Park Avenue

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure, Rates January 18, 2019

Fire Hydrant Access

Des Moines Water Works collaborates with city fire departments to properly maintain nearly 10,000 fire hydrants in the Des Moines Water Works distribution system. You can help your local fire department and Des Moines Water Works by following these simple tips to keep fire hydrants working  properly and accessible when they are needed:

  • During winter months, shovel snow away from fire hydrants.
  • Do not paint fire hydrants – the color of the fire hydrant is indicative of water flow available for fire protection.
  • Keep cars, bikes, toys and other objects away from fire hydrants at all times.
  • Mow and trim grass or weeds around fire hydrants near your property.
  • Do not plant flowers or shrubs around fire hydrants.

If you notice a damaged fire hydrant or witness suspicious activity near a fire hydrant, please call Des Moines Water Works at (515) 283-8700.  Your call is important to the fire protection of your home, business and others around you.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure January 17, 2019

DMWW Calls on (Old and New) Friends for Telemetry Assistance

Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) in some situations uses secured radio telemetry to send information from remote sites to the Control Center. This information is used to monitor various attributes of remote sites so staff can be alerted to any problems and ensure systems are running optimally.

In recent months, DMWW experienced periodic and sometimes total failure of the radio system that communicates to several facilities and water tower sites.

DMWW employees worked diligently for some time to try to remedy the issue. When no solution could be found, staff reached out to radio sales representatives and technical resources to assist with the problem. In addition, Des Moines Police (DMPD) radio department, Polk County Emergency Management, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) were also contacted to help find the interference.

That’s when a relatively unknown volunteer group, Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service, was brought in for assistance.

The mission of Polk County Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) is to provide emergency radio communications for Polk County and surrounding communities when officially activated by an authorized agency. ARES is comprised of 76 volunteers and is governed by the FCC Code of Federal Regulations. An FCC requirement for maintaining radio spectrum for amateur radio is providing service to the public.

“The primary focus of our communications efforts are surrounding emergency response – specifically to augment public service communications capabilities for the various jurisdictions within Polk County,” said Scott Kirstein, Emergency Coordinator, Polk County ARES. “Fortunately, Polk County is pretty well equipped and has considerable resources to utilize for most emergencies, so we are not needed very often for the real thing; however, we do provide routine support for community events, like the Des Moines Marathon, Living History Farms Race, Fight for Air Climb, to name a few.”

A total of eight operators from Polk County ARES assembled to track down the signal interference plaguing DMWW over the course of about three weeks. DMWW, DMPD radio department, and the FCC continued to assist during the workday, while the amateur volunteers worked the late shift.

A Polk County ARES volunteer working to isolate the source of the signal in Downtown Des Moines.

After a process of elimination (finding out for sure what was not causing the interference, to determine where it could be), the volunteer group
pinpointed the signal to defunct equipment on top of a downtown Des Moines building that was causing the unintentional interference. The team contacted the owner of the license associated with the equipment and got permission to disable it, and DMWW confirmed the signal interference was gone.

Collectively, the Polk County ARES volunteer team spent approximately 70 hours to assist DMWW.

“We are just a handful of folks who are willing to help out if we can. We heard of a need, thought maybe we could help, and caught a couple of breaks to solve a problem,” said Scott Kirstein.

After the experience, DMWW has a more robust radio system with encryption and a stronger relationship with several entities who can assist if a similar problem happens in the future.

Thank you to DMPD, Polk County, FCC, and the volunteer amateur radio group in locating the signal interference and working to find solutions for DMWW’s communications systems, which are a vital element in our work to deliver safe drinking water to 500,000 central Iowa customers.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Customer Service, Infrastructure September 19, 2018

Critical Infrastructure Upgrades Since 1993

Water is one of the most useful things on Earth and also one the most powerful. As the Des Moines metro area prepared to celebrate 25 years of progress from the historic Flood of 1993, residents once again witnessed firsthand the devastating force of nature during the flash flooding of late June 2018, with pockets of the metro area receiving 6 to 10 inches in a matter of hours. Tributaries of the Raccoon River and Des Moines River reached record or near-record levels. The localized flash flooding caused significant damage to many homes and businesses.

After monitoring river projections through the late evening, Des Moines Water Works (DMWW) staff began flood preparations for the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant in the early morning hours of July 1. While the Raccoon River at Fleur Drive did not reach record stages like the Flood ’93, the physical and informational changes made since 1993 have been tested numerous times:

  • Levees surrounding the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant were built up an additional 6 feet.
  • Flood gates were installed around Fleur Drive Treatment Plant and George Flagg Parkway General Office.
  • Stormwater upgrades inside Fleur Drive Treatment Plant were made to protect against internal flooding during heaving rains.
  • Access to the Fleur Drive Treatment Plant during a flood event were improved with the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway interchange construction.
  • Critical support functions at the General Office were relocated to ensure access of important data.
  • Two additional water treatment plants – L.D. McMullen Water Treatment Plant at Maffitt Reservoir and Saylorville Water Treatment Plant – were built to create redundancy in our water treatment capabilities.
  • Three Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) wells were also constructed to provide redundancy.
  • Real-time river data from United States Geological Survey, National Weather Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers were made available. The availability to this important data is invaluable to staff for emergency planning and preparation.

(photo of Fleur Drive Treatment Plant flood gates during 2008 flood)

With these critical infrastructure upgrades, Des Moines Water Works is able to remain committed to providing safe, affordable and abundant water service, even in times of crisis.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in About Us, Flooding, Infrastructure September 10, 2018

Gallery ‘Flooding Station’ 100 Years Old

Des Moines Water Works Fleur Drive Treatment Plant has the option of three different sources of raw water. The first and best source is a shallow groundwater collection system called the Infiltration Gallery. The Gallery system is a three-mile long, porous pipe constructed with concrete rings. The gallery runs parallel to the Raccoon River in Water Works Park from SW 46th Street to Fleur Drive. It collects naturally-filtered water from the sand and gravel of the river valley. The concrete rings are four and five feet in diameter and two feet long and are held slightly apart so water can trickle into the pipe. The Gallery system at Des Moines Water Works dates back to 1884, when the first 260 feet was constructed. By 1910, over 6,000 feet of Gallery had been excavated and placed in service.

Prior to 1910, when Des Moines’ water supply was deficient, trenches were dug in nearby sandbars or whole surfaces of sandbars were cleaned off to allow them to flood at a shallow depth and augment the water supply to the Gallery. After Gallery extensions were made in 1910, “emergency filters” were also constructed to collect water for infiltration. Thus began the construction of the current ponds in Water Works Park to augment the water supply to the Gallery.

During the drought of 1916 and after, extremely low water levels were artificially increased using a temporary pumping station to pump water from the Raccoon River onto a low-lying area. About five million gallons per day (mgd) were pumped onto the ground to flood an area of about four acres. Since this worked so effectively at increasing water supplies in the Gallery, it was decided to build a permanent pumping station at this location in 1918. It was placed into service in February 1919, and contained two motor-driven centrifugal pumps that could each pump 5 mgd. Since it was originally used to flood the land, it became known as a ‘flooding station,’ not pumping station.

One interesting fact about the Gallery flooding station is who the architect was: Norman T. Vorse. Mr. Vorse was a well-known architect of the time. He designed many Des Moines landmarks, including Court Avenue Bridge, Des Moines Municipal Courthouse (now the home of Des Moines Police Department) and Hoyt-Sherman Auditorium.

The Infiltration Gallery provided all the water to the Des Moines area until 1949. Increased water demand required construction of an intake on the Raccoon River in 1949, and the drought of 1977 precipitated construction of an intake on the Des Moines River in 1980. Today, the Infiltration Gallery system provides the first 20 million gallons of water each day, and a century later, the flooding station is still in use.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in About Us, Infrastructure, Source Water February 1, 2018

Water Main Replacement Program

Water main replacement planning is a necessary, preventative approach that saves money on repairs, reduces the loss of water that occurs as a result of the main breaks, and minimizes disruption to customers.  Des Moines Water Works budgets for water main replacement to maintain and upgrade the distribution system by replacing water mains that have a history of breaks, to improve the fire flow, relocating to accommodate city, county, or state construction projects, and upgrading water mains to meet the needs of customers.

Several factors impact which water mains are replaced and the approach to planning for 2018 was different than in years past.  Des Moines Water Works’ Long Range Plan through 2040 included the analysis of water main break data occurring within the system.  Through this analysis, a relative risk score was created based on the assessment of consequence of  failure, likelihood of failure, and a capacity factor.  Pipe segments consisting of risk scores in the highest range are highly recommended for replacement.  Staff from various departments provided input while creating the priority list of streets for water main replacement.  Des Moines Water Works’ 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) includes approximately $7 million of water main replacement each year.  The City of Des Moines also has a 5-year CIP for city streets and sewers.  Des Moines Water Works and the City of Des Moines work collaboratively to choose the streets to be the most cost effective and cause the least disruption to customers.

After each project is designed, Des Moines Water Works will receive bids from contractors and the construction contract will be awarded to the contractor that will be performing the work.  If the bids received allow Des Moines Water Works to complete all the streets within budget, construction will take place in 2018.  Construction not completed in 2018 will take place in future years.  Des Moines Water Works is currently contacting customers directly in the neighborhoods throughout Des Moines and Polk County that have been scheduled for water main replacement in 2018.  Additional customer letters and public meetings will be forthcoming.  Des Moines Water Works appreciates the cooperation and understanding from customers during construction and will work with contractors to minimize the inconvenience to customers impacted by the following projects:

Polk County Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1

  • NE 14th Street from I-80/35 Westbound Off Ramp to NE 43rd Avenue

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 1

  • Thomas Beck Road from Crown Colony Court to 1401 Thomas Beck Road
  • Fleur Drive from George Flagg Parkway to SW 22nd Street
  • Maple Street from E 2nd Street to E 4th Street
  • E 4th Street from Maple Street to Des Moines Street
  • Alternate Street – Watrous Avenue from SW 14th Street to Glover Avenue

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 2

  • SW 9th Street from Johnson Street to Amos Avenue
  • SW 10th Place from Southdale Drive to County Line Road
  • SW 11th Street from Southdale Drive to County Line Road
  • SW 15th Street from Army Post Road to Johnson Street
  • Alternate Streets – SE 8th Street from E Miller Avenue to E Rose Avenue and Wall Avenue from SW 13th Place to SW 12th Street

Des Moines Water Main Replacement – CONTRACT 3

  • Kenyon Avenue from SW 16th Street to SW 9th Street
  • SE 14th Street from E Diehl Avenue to E Thornton Avenue
  • SE 14th Street from E Thornton Avenue to E Watrous Avenue
  • Alternate Street – Pioneer Road from SE 14th Street to 1603 Pioneer Road
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 1 Comment
Labels: , , , Posted in Customer Service, Customers, Infrastructure January 16, 2018

Des Moines Water Works Becomes First U.S. Water Treatment Facility Certified for ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance Program

Des Moines Water Works recently became the first U.S. water treatment utility to certify a plant to the ISO 50001 standard and Superior Energy Performance® (SEP) program.  The SEP program has long helped industrial and commercial organizations establish energy management systems that meet the widely respected ISO 50001 standard and achieve verified energy and cost savings.  As the first certified facility in the water sector, Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Water Treatment Plant has paved the way for similar facilities nationwide to increase efficiency, cut costs, and demonstrate responsible management of resources.

Aerial photo of Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Treatment Plant.

Water treatment facilities across America increasingly face aging infrastructures and rising costs.  According to the Electric Power Research Institute, U.S. water and wastewater treatment and distribution systems purchase nearly 70 billion kWh annually (about 1.8 percent of U.S. electricity consumption).  Low-cost operational changes enabled by an energy management system can sustainably reduce operating costs to enable reinvestment in infrastructure or control rates.

Des Moines Water Works has taken a pro-active step in good stewardship of energy and ratepayer dollars by implementing a comprehensive energy conservation and management program.  Energy costs are a significant portion of the utility’s operational budget, so focusing on developing and implementing an energy management system is a crucial step in this stewardship.

Des Moines Water Works worked closely with U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to implement ISO 50001 and SEP.  The utility has pursued energy-saving strategies for decades, but in 2014, the utility raised the bar by joining the SEP pilot for the water/wastewater sector.  In 2016, Des Moines Water Works joined DOE’s Better Plants program and set a goal to increase energy efficiency 25% utility-wide by 2026.  In the following year (2017), the utility joined the Better Plants Challenge, which involves a commitment to share their solutions.

ISO 50001 and SEP helped the utility establish a formal structure to embed energy management processes and reporting into normal business procedures, ensuring the retention and growth of energy savings over time.  By implementing a rigorous energy management system certified to ISO 50001 and Superior Energy Performance, Des Moines Water Works’ Fleur Drive Water Treatment Plant increased its energy performance 2.7% in a single year and is now well-equipped to continuously build on those savings in the years ahead.

ISO 50001 has empowered employees at Des Moines Water Works to incorporate energy-saving actions in day-to-day operations, for example:  taking into consideration how and where energy is used, the cost of energy, and its impact on water rates.

“This new culture of managing energy performance will help the Des Moines Water Works expand its energy and cost savings to benefit the environment and our water customers,” said Bill Stowe, Des Moines Water Works CEO and General Manager.  “The certification is a clear indication to Des Moines Water Works customers and employees that we will lead in providing about good stewardship of natural resources, improving energy performance, and reducing carbon emissions.”

Posted by: Laura Sarcone 2 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Green Initiatives, Infrastructure August 9, 2017

Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa

Though Des Moines Water Works has successfully supplied safe, abundant and affordable drinking water to central Iowans for almost 100 years, the associated planning, production, distribution, monitoring and challenges presented by contaminated source water are not common knowledge among most citizens.  With water quality on the minds of Central Iowans, Des Moines Water Works is launching a Citizen Water Academy of Central Iowa in an effort to engage the public in more detail about the evolution of drinking water and understand plans for the future that meet the growing needs of our community.

The Citizen Water Academy is a free, four-session crash course about the history, use and management of water in the Central Iowa region.  The Academy is designed to help current and emerging leaders in our community learn and appreciate our most important natural resource, the water we depend on for life.  Attendees will receive 16 hours of instruction, tour multiple treatment plants operated by Des Moines Water Works, listen to over 15 presentations from soil and water experts, and interact with our expert Des Moines Water Works staff over the 4 courses of the program.  It is our hope that participants not only come away from the Academy with a better understanding of their local water utility, but are also equipped to help lead the debate on important water issues now and in the future.

For more information on the Citizen Water Academy and to apply to be a part of the inaugural class, visit www.citizenwateracademy.com  For specific questions, contact Jennifer Terry, at (515) 283-8706 or terry@dmww.com.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in About Us, Education, Health, History, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Source Water, Value of Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment June 29, 2017

Board of Water Works Trustees Receive and File $178 Million Five Year Capital Improvement Plan

The Board of Water Works Trustees received and filed staff’s recommended five year capital improvement plan at their regularly scheduled board meeting on June 27.  While the Board did not take immediate action on specific projects within the capital improvement plan, it does lay the groundwork and set a course for investments needed to meet federal drinking water standards, improve or expand water infrastructure, and enhance technology through 2021.  In the fall of 2017, the Board of Water Works Trustees will approve one year operating and capital budgets for calendar year 2018.

“The five year Capital Improvement Plan is the most aggressive view of the capital improvements Des Moines Water Works may need over the next five years,” said Bill Stowe, CEO and General Manager, Des Moines Water Works. “The plan includes improvements for source, treatment, storage, pumping, and transmission, for the benefit of the central Iowa region.”

The capital improvement plan is intentionally comprehensive, with over $178 million in investments identified.  It establishes a path of anticipated needs based on a defined set of assumptions, such as population growth and water quality.  The plan will change as assumptions are modified based on actual experience, such as regulatory requirements, demand growth, and water quality vulnerabilities.

Concurrently, staff is developing and finalizing, with significant input from suburban customers through the Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee, a long range plan through 2040.  The Long Range Plan will be a framework for water needs in the Des Moines metro area for the next 20 years.  This five year plan is a step toward the long range plan.

The five year plan includes important source, treatment, storage and transmission projects identified in the 2040 long range plan like a shallow alluvial wellfield along the Des Moines River which will provide natural denitrification of source water, expansion of the nitrate removal facility, two new aquifer storage and recovery wells, additional transmission mains to suburban customers, increased water main replacements within Des Moines and unincorporated Polk County, and the design of an expansion at Saylorville Water Treatment Plant.

Des Moines Water Works is committed to managing and optimizing available financial resources.  Financing may involve a combination of bonding, grants, water rates, purchased capacity, and State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans.  Many components of the plan are “modular,” and may be completed in smaller increments over time to allow for more flexibility in financing and to ensure investments meet changing priorities.

“The five year capital improvement plan demonstrates today’s prioritization of infrastructure plans, under constant review. Water system infrastructure improvements are critical to the health and success of our community.  Des Moines Water Works has been providing safe, affordable and abundant drinking water to Central Iowa since 1919 and is committed to meeting the region’s needs for the next 100 years,” said Stowe.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, Customers, Infrastructure, Rates, Water Quality March 21, 2017

HF 484/SF 456 A Gamble Not Worth Taking

Legislative Overreach

  • This legislation stands in stark contrast to Home Rule (the right for local self-government).
  • Iowa Code Chapter 388, states that a city may establish or dispose of a city utility, but it is subject to the approval of the voters of the city.
  • This legislation takes the right to vote out of the hands of the citizens of Des Moines, West Des Moines, and Urbandale.
  • In a recent survey of the Des Moines metro, 88% of registered voters said that people who live in the community should have final say over whether to remove an independent utility.
  • The poll results mirror the results of the West Des Moines vote in 2003, on whether or not to dissolve its independent water utility.

Regionalization is already Underway and should not be forced

  • Safe drinking water is a public health issue, and should not be gambled.
  • Regionalization needs to be done in a thoughtful and meaningful manner.
  • Des Moines Water Works is open to and has been actively participating in regionalization discussions for the past few years.
  • It is not necessary for the legislature to create a study committee to examine regionalization because one already exists.  It’s called CIRDWC – Central Iowa Regional Drinking Water Commission.
  • CIRDWC has already completed a regionalization study, and is now in the final stages of a 20-year forecast of the water needs in central Iowa.
  • CIRDWC already provides every metro community with a seat at the table.  This legislative action would not only duplicate and confuse ongoing efforts, but also disregard the work that has already be done.

HF 484 is a mess

  • It takes the management of delivering safe and affordable drinking water from professionals and puts in the hands of politicians.
  • HF 484, as written, has no plan, no mechanism for funding, no assurance that technical experts will be involved.
  • The bill has been changed numerous times; it has had new amendments and language added and then deleted.  The 500,000 people who rely on Des Moines Water Works have been left in the dark.
  • Water utility boards were set up independent from city councils for a reason – to protect a public health necessity from politics.  Simply stated, it is an independent local water utility owned by its customers and it works, and has worked for 100 years.
Posted by: Laura Sarcone 9 Comments
Labels: , , , Posted in Board of Trustees, History, Infrastructure, Public Policy, Source Water, Water Quality, Water Treatment